Summary

The Speedgoat combines a perfect blend of performance and comfort making it a go-to shoe for long distance trail running. When it comes to picking the perfect shoe for race day, the latest generation Speedgoat 5 seems no exception.
Posted Feb 10, 2023
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Speedgoat 5
5.0/5
(1)
Pros
  • Vibram Megagrip outsole
  • Soft, plush upper
  • Ton of cushion for long distance running
Cons
  • Upper has worn out quickly for me in previous models
  • I'll miss the removed heel tab loop when backpacking

Hoka One One Speedgoat 5 Review

If I could choose just one trail shoe to train, run and race, it would be the Hoka Speedgoat.

The shoe takes its namesake from Karl "Speedgoat" Meltzer, an American ultrarunner that has won more 100-mile ultramarathons than any other ultramarathoner.  Karl has also held records on major U.S. trails, including the Appalachian Trail and the Pony Express Trail - he is considered one of the greatest of all time by many in the sport.

With Meltzer's input, the original Speedgoat was first introduced by Hoka in 2015 with great anticipation.  At the time, many ultra distance trail shoes still featured a minimalist design.  Hoka focused on a lightweight high stack shoe that was made to run fast for a long time.

My Experience with the Speedgoat

The Hoka Speedgoat was originally released in 2015 with collaboration from American ultrarunner Karl Meltzer

I began trail running about 5 years ago and imagine the first shoe I began with was whatever old pair of road runners I had laying around.  I took a trip to my local REI to pick up something more specific to trail running and was immediately pointed to Hoka.  I remember my first impression being, "wow, those are ugly!".  Perhaps they are visually an acquired taste... you still won't catch me wearing them out around town, but they have grown on me.

I picked up a pair of Speedgoat 2's that day.  I ran through that pair until the upper was disintegrating and my toes were falling out, skipped over the Speedgoat 3's but ended up with two pair of the 4's.  I am still running in one pair of 4's (although they are about finished) and now a pair of 5's.

Aside from the Speedgoats, I have tried several other trail running shoes from On, Altra, Brooks, New Balance and Salomon.  While there are shoes that I prefer for specific conditions or terrain, the Speedgoat continues to be my all-time favorite for any trail running distance beyond 10 miles.

For perspective, I average around 100 miles per month running with most of that being on trail.  I've completed many half marathon distances, a couple of full marathons, a 50k ultra and a 40 mile ultra.  You can usually find me middle of the pack.

Speedgoat 4 vs 5

Hoka Speedgoat 5 in the forefront with the Speedgoat 4 behind

Being that I have experience with prior models and am still running in both the Speedgoat 4 and now the Speedgoat 5, I am going to focus this review on the comparison of the Speedgoat 4 vs 5. 

Between the two pair of Speedgoat 4's I have owned, I have ran hundreds of miles and completed two ultramarathon events - the Two Hearted Trail Run 50k in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and Highlands Sky 40-Mile in West Virginia.

I've had the Speedgoat 5 for a few months now and have ran around 75-100 miles in them.

Design and Appearance

My pair of Hoka Speedgoat 4 equipped with Kahtoola Microspikes

I'll start by saying, neither the Speedgoat 4 or Speedgoat 5 is a shoe that I will spend much time wearing off of the trail.  I do use both for some general hiking and certainly backpacking (which they are amazing for) but they really aren't my style for much other general use.

That being said, while the boldly colored Speedgoat designs may not be a mainstay in the local grocery store, you are sure to be in good company on the trails.  They are an incredibly popular shoe in the trail running community.

Hoka has made a name of using loud design and the Speedgoat 5 color options are no exception.  You'll certainly stand out in the Scuba Blue/Black option.  But there is something about the aggressive lines slashed from front to back on my pictured blue/red Speedgoat 4 that just scream out "I'm fast!".  

Based on looks alone, I have to give the edge to the Speedgoat 4.  

Comfort and Fit

Side by side view of the tongue on the Speedgoat 4 (left) and Speedgoat 5 (right)

The Speedgoat in general is a very locked in fit and the fifth iteration is no exception.  I have a wide forefoot and my first experience with the shoe was a somewhat claustrophobic feeling for my toes.  The purpose of the lightweight upper is singular - keep the high stack cushion held firmly where it belongs on the bottom of your foot.  Don't expect much room in the upper for splay.

The most exciting improvement that I see in the 5's is the extension of the felt material above the stiffer support layer of the tongue (as pictured).  With both the Speedgoat 2's and 4's I would consistently have hot spots during long runs on the front of the midfoot where the hard tongue material makes contact.  It is my biggest complaint of the prior models of the shoe.  this looks like a solution, feels much better so far and hopefully will hold up over mileage.

Another major change in the Speedgoat 5 is a bolstered heel collar as opposed to the traditional heel tab loop.  I can go both ways on this.  I don't generally untie my running shoes and the extra support to slide the foot in is appreciated.  If I'm backpacking though, it is nice to run a carabiner clip through the heel tab and carry on the back of a pack as opposed to inside.

The advantage in comfort and fit definitely goes to the Speedgoat 5.  The shoe just feels softer and more plush than the 4th generation, which is hard to believe.  It is as close as it gets to the feel of a high cushion road shoe while running on trail.       

Performance

Not much has changed on the Vibram Megagrip tread pattern between the Speedgoat 4 (left) and Speedgoat 5 (right)

Run fast for a long time.  Both of these shoes are better at this than any other I have found.  It would be a very slight difference to claim that the Speedgoat 4 or 5 perform better.

The 5 is lighter... by 0.50 ounces.  The lugs are configured slightly different - but both are 5mm.  The Meta-Rocker design to keep the foot from landing flat is essentially unchanged.

I would consider this a tie with both the Speedgoat 4 and 5 being an incredible ride.

Durability

The Hoka Speedgoat is a long distance workhorse designed for performance and comfort across technical trails

I don't expect the Speedgoat to be the most durable shoe on the market.  It is a high stack shoe balancing performance and comfort that is designed to be light weight.  High stack, performance and comfort all inherently imply weight.  Efforts to keep weight minimal have to come with some trade off in longevity.  That said, I have gotten 400+ miles from each pair that I have owned and consider that to be reasonable.

The area that has first failed in each of my first three pairs has consistently been on the upper on either side of the forefoot directly adjacent to the bottom eyelets of the lacing system.  It makes sense that this area would be first compromised given that it is a constant flexion point of the shoe in motion.      

According to Hoka, "The Speedgoat 5 employs a lighter midsole compound and heartier, double layer jacquard mesh".  I'm not exactly sure what that means but gather it's something to do with weaving two layers of fabric together as opposed to layering.  Hopefully this will help with durability of the upper over the Speedgoat 4.  Still too early for me to tell. 

Technical Specs

Hoka's Speedgoat 5 is a technical trail running shoe with a high stack height and maximum cushion

The technical specifications are understandably similar between the Hoka Speedgoat 4 and 5.

Terrain:  Trail
Support:  Nuetral
Drop:  4mm
Weight:  10.3 oz (10.8 oz for SG4)
Outsole:  5mm Vibram

Not much to see here...

Speedgoat 4 vs 5 Conclusion

The Hoka Speedgoat 5 is similar to its predecessor but worth a look for anyone considering an upgrade and my recommendation of choice for anyone that hasn't tried a prior generation but is seeking a solid trail shoe

I think my position on the shoe is clear but will go ahead and reiterate that the Speedgoat is the absolute G.O.A.T. of my short trail running career.  I truly enjoyed the 2nd and 4th generation and the Speedgoat 5 continues to improve on this experience.

I personally prefer the design of the Speedgoat 4 but consider the Speedgoat 5 a significant improvement in comfort and hopefully durability over the long run.  The decreased weight, while perhaps unnoticeable in the hand or on the foot will undoubtedly be appreciated over the long run.

While I eagerly await the release of the 6th generation, I wouldn't recommend the Speedgoat 5 as one to miss.       

Comments

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David Moore
Moderator
Silver Lake, Ohio
41 Followers
94 Following

Amateur runner, bicycler and swimmer. I alternate way too frequently between trail and road running. 40 mile ultra two times....

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